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Monday, March 24, 2014

Wild About Bears, written and illustrated Jeannie Brett. Charllesbridge, Thomas Allen & Son, 2014. $14.95 ages 6 and up

"Bears are omnivores and eat a variety of plants and animals. The giant panda is sometimes called a herbivore because of the large quantity of bamboo it consumes. Eating primarily seals, the polar bear is often referred to as a carnivore."

I have never asked myself how many different species of bears live in our world. After reading this information-packed and beautifully illustrated book, I now know there are eight. I also know a great deal more about these bears than I did half an hour ago, and that's pretty cool!

Jeannie Brett begins with an opening that identifies them:

"Eight bear species live on earth today: the polar bear, brown bear, North American black bear, spectacled bear, Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, sun bear, and giant panda."

A turn of the page offers a look at the physical traits that are common to all. She follows this with another double spread that focuses on  bear behavior. Then, she gets to the 'guts' of the book: showing each species in their own environment and relating interesting and attention-getting facts about them. She starts with the polar bear, introducing it with its scientific name, the common names it is called, and its size. A short descriptive paragraph, in simply written text, provides what a young researcher might need for a class project. Realistic and appealing watercolor images of the bear in its natural habitat are captioned with further information.

Each bear species is described using the same format, making it easy to access for young readers and allowing them to learn what they need to know. Ms. Brett points out to her readers how the bears differ and assures a genuine feeling for protecting them with her winsome and winning artwork.
Adding a world map, a habitat glossary, and a page filled with additional resources adds to the appeal, and to the value of such a book for those wanting to know more about the bears of the world.

"The spectacled bear gets its name from the cream-colored rings of fur around its eyes, which can make it look as if it is wearing glasses. Spectacled bears spend a lot of time in trees. They make crude nests from bent and broken branches. These nests give them easy access to favorite plant foods and also serve as a lookout."

Who knew?

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